Home News Local News Man pleads not guilty to sexual assault of child, firearms charges

Man pleads not guilty to sexual assault of child, firearms charges

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A 34-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting a child while she was spending the night at his home in June has pleaded not guilty to two criminal counts.

Michael William Joseph (Submitted Photo)

Michael William Joseph of Roswell entered a formal plea of not guilty to one count of criminal sexual penetration, first degree, child under 13; and one count of firearms destructive devices, receipt, transportation or possession by a felon, during his arraignment Monday in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court, according to Judith Elizabeth Caruso, Joseph’s attorney.

“He adamantly maintains his innocence,” she said after the hearing Monday. Court documents did not say who represented the prosecution at Monday’s proceeding.

Joseph was arrested and charged June 26 after allegedly sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl who, along with a second child, spent the previous night at his 1000 block of Plains Park Drive residence. Following a first appearance in Chaves County Magistrate Court on June 29, Joseph was released on his own recognizance pending trial.

According to documents that were filed at the time in Chaves County Magistrate Court, the girl told investigators that she and Joseph were in his bed after falling asleep when he allegedly pulled her closer and began sexually assaulting her.

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She also told police that Joseph — a convicted felon — reportedly kept a handgun in a safe inside the residence and an AK-47 on the top shelf of his closet.

When questioned by police, court documents state that Joseph denied he had sexually assaulted the girl or had touched her inappropriately.

Joseph told police that he had fallen asleep drunk on the bed, after the girl and the other child staying at the residence were asleep.

He did admit to police that he had a 9mm Ruger handgun with ammunition in his home, but said that the AK-47 was at his mother’s house, court documents state.

When police later executed a search warrant on Joseph’s home, a 9mm Ruger handgun, 20 boxes of ammunition, a gray blanket believed to have belonged to Joseph and two glass smoking devices that emitted the smell of marijuana were seized.

Court documents state that on the night of the alleged incident, the girl was in the custody of one of her mother’s friends, who had allowed her and the other child to spend the night at Joseph’s house.

Late that night, the girl, while crying, called her mother’s friend on the phone and said she wanted to be picked up from Joseph’s house.

The woman later told police that when she went to Joseph’s house, she believed he was intoxicated and asleep. She then left the house with the two children.

The girl was taken to a local hospital to be examined, where staff contacted police.

Early that morning, police showed up at Joseph’s house, where he was taken into custody without incident and a search warrant was executed on his home.

Court documents state Judge James Hudson on Monday tentatively scheduled Joseph’s jury trial for March 23.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.